Today I’m sharing a story I haven’t shared in awhile.
When I was 20 years old, I had everything I thought I ever wanted. I had just graduated from college at the top of my class and had an amazing job at a local graphic design firm making more money than my peers. I had just bought a brand new townhouse with my “high school sweetheart” of almost seven years and was driving around in a shiny little car that I’d bought in my own name. Life was good.
Except that it wasn’t. I hated my job and didn’t want to be “just” another designer. My relationship was incredibly toxic and abusive. I was already stressed and strained under the financial pressure of the house and car, especially considering that I was the one paying for all of it. I was so depressed, numb, lost, and dissociated to the point that I “woke up” in my home office one day with NO IDEA where I was or how I’d gotten there.
I’m sharing this story today because it’s relevant as I start to consider some big changes in my personal life, because I’m still untangling myself from the perfect little life I built in my 20s, but never wanted in the first place.
I’m still uncovering parts of myself that have been tucked away, that need to be fully expressed for me to truly step into who I’m here to be and the work I’m here to do. Click below to watch this week’s video!
Hey, friends, welcome to another vlog. I am in between hot yoga and dinner, and I thought it was kind of awesome that I am where I am in the part of town that I’m in for dinner, because I actually wanted to share a story I haven’t shared in a long time, and I used to live in this area, so the story that I’m about to tell, my home base was in this area, so it’s kind of a funny coincidence.
So the story that I wanna share is one that used to actually be my brand story, so it was the story that I shared on my about page, in my bio, at the start of every talk. It was kind of the core of the work that I did when I first started Stephenie Zamora Media seven, eight years ago, and that story goes like this.
When I was 20 years old I had everything I thought I ever wanted. So I had just graduated from college at the top of my class. I had an amazing job at a local graphic design firm. I had just bought a brand new townhouse with my high school sweetheart who I’d been with for almost seven years, and I was driving around in a shiny little car that was in my own name.
At 20 years old I had achieved everything that I thought I wanted, that was what most people set out to achieve, right? I had a degree, I had a home, it was beautiful, and I was in love with my high school sweetheart, can’t say any of that without air quoting it. But the way the story goes is that one day I was sitting in my home office because the house was big enough for me to have a home office, and it was like I woke up from a dream, a daze.
And I remember being fully present for the first time in who knows how many years, and looking around at the white walls of this office and the matching furniture, and everything was very beige and just plain, and perfectly matching and lovely and nice, but I remember very, very viscerally, very clearly looking around that office and wondering where I was and how in the hell I ended up there because it was not me. I also at the time didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted. I didn’t know what I would have created otherwise.
That is the start of when I really took a sledgehammer to my perfect little life, and I destroyed every aspect of it one piece at a time, desperately trying to figure out who am I and what am I here to do. It has been what feels like a lifetime since that day, since I woke up in that office.
The reason that I’m sharing this is when I was 14, 15 years old, I really did know who I was. I don’t know that a lot of people feel that way, but I really did know who I was. I didn’t necessarily know what it meant for my life and my work and the kinda relationships that I should be in, but I was a free spirit, I was creative, I was a dreamer. I mean I had big visions and plans to start multiple companies, to get multiple degrees, I was gonna go to school for design and photography and marketing. I actually really, really wanted to get emancipated and run away to New York. Nothing ever came of that other than googling it in my high school library. I knew who I was and I had a wildness to me, a free spirit and I just wanted so much out of life.
And then found myself in the wrong relationship, in a relationship that was toxic and abusive and very slowly and methodically picked me apart piece by piece until I fit into what he wanted for his life. I didn’t have any skills, I didn’t know any better. So I also allowed for that. Then I found myself on this path creating this life that was beautiful, that was something that so many people work so hard to have, and I had achieved it at such a young age.
Really I think why this is all coming to head for me now is that I’m in a home that I love. It’s quirky and it’s old, and it’s weird and none of my furniture matches, which is totally me and I get to live there alone and I love my neighbors and I love so much about my life. But I am very, very, very, very likely going to have to move because we have a mold problem that is probably not gonna get taken care of. So I am being faced with this question of I have total freedom, I have the privilege of running my own company where I can do work from literally anywhere that there’s Wi-Fi and I don’t have any kids, I’m not in a committed relationship. I am not tied to anyone or anything. I don’t own property anymore. There’s nothing that ties me here.
And there’s a part of me that has been aching to come alive since that day when I was 20 years old and I woke up in this picture perfect life that wasn’t for me. And it is because I sacrificed a part of myself that’s very fundamental to who I am, and it’s that part that loves to wonder and to explore and has a certain level of wildness and just absolutely loves adventure, and expression, and creating for the sake of creating, and who wants to do very, very big things in the world.
I have slowly started integrating that part of me over the years. If you look at my business, you can see that and the way that I live my life. But there’s this part of me that has felt boxed up for too long. And that part of me wants to take this opportunity to up and leave and go live in the mountains. So I don’t know yet what I’m gonna do. I’ve been really exploring what I want and where I want to live and what kinda life I wanna to have and thank goodness for some of my amazing friends who are really supporting me through the exploration process of that.
I shared all of this just because that’s kinda of what’s going on in my world, and that’s the purpose of the vlog. But also because a very, very dear friend of mine asked me a brilliant question. She asked me a question along the lines of what is it that you’re not getting? Because while this part of me wants to up and run away to the mountains and live this adventurous life and be fully expressed in a way that I have never been able to express that part, I love my community and I have some really amazing people here, and there is so much potential for connection and collaboration and creation in the area that I live in.
She asked me what is it that you are missing, that makes you wanna leave? I don’t have that answer fully yet, other than there’s this part of me that needs to come alive, it needs to be considered when I think about what do I want my life to look like, where am I gonna live, what am I gonna be doing, what are the kinds of relationships that I wanna be in, alongside the work that I’m doing.
I think one of the other points that I wanna make is we can only deny parts of ourselves for so long. And sometimes we can get away with it for a long time. I certainly did in my 20s. But we can’t deny it forever, especially as we do the work of asking ourself the kinda questions of who do I wanna be and what is the work I’m here to do, and taking the steps to lean in to new ways of being and change our patterns and our beliefs so that we can create and do big work in the world, and have an impact in the way that we want, and love deeply and fully and completely.
When we start really untangling all that stuff, stuff like this is gonna come up because ultimately what we’re doing is getting to the core of who am I and what is the work I’m here to do? And if I’m asking who am I here to be, then I can no longer deny the parts of myself that have been tucked away or haven’t been fully expressed.
Don’t really have like a conclusion to this vlog, other than I am exploring what it is that I want to create in my personal life and my living situation and where I am, and how am I gonna start expressing this part of me that is wilder and more free-spirited and more wanderlust-gypsy-creative-nomad while also honoring a part of me that is real, that loves the community that I’m in, loves having a home base, and loves being in an area that is nurturing to my creative and entrepreneurial side.
So those are maybe the questions I wanna leave you with. First of all, is there a part of you that you’re not fully expressing, and what can you do to start to integrate more of that part of you into your day to day life? What needs to happen? What’s missing? What would really nurture and fulfill that part of you? I will be asking myself the same and sharing more in an upcoming video.
Tell me, what parts of yourself have you tucked away over the years? What wants to come alive, and what do you need in order to truly honor and nurture that beautiful part of yourself?